Use The Right Search Tool
Google Flights is Black Travel Lounge’s favorite flight search engine. Like Google’s main page, you will only use this site to search, and you will then book the flights directly with the airlines.
Google Flights makes this seamless, and once you search for the itinerary, it will then direct you to the airline to book that itinerary. Google will forward the search result details so that you do not have to repeat the search on the airline’s website.
We recommend that you book your flight directly with the airline that you want to fly on. When booking through a third party such as Expedia, Travelocity, etc., if you need any change before departure, it has to be handled by these agencies.
You often run into many issues when you need assistance. These online travel agencies are not based in the US and cannot offer as much flexibility and exceptions as the airline themselves can. So when you can, remove the middle man and book direct.
When looking to find travel deals, flexibility is required. The more flexible you are, the more options you will find, which turns into more opportunities for deals. If tickets for the dates you initially opted for are too expensive, try moving your travel dates, and you may be amazed at how many savings you can find.
If you don’t have to travel on a specific date, take advantage of your flexibility to save money. According to a study completed by farecompare.com, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are the cheapest days for domestic US travel.
Register to Receive Price Alerts & Fare Blogs
Once you have chosen your flight dates, ask the search engine for fare alerts for the selected dates. You will receive daily changes to the ticket price. It will go up and down, and when you feel that the ticket has reached the lowest price, buy it. Be careful, though; if you hesitate too long, the price can suddenly skyrocket and never go down again.
Many travel bloggers will alert you to travel deals, error-fares, and airline sales. We recommend Secret Flying as this site focuses only on airfare deals. You could get lost in the deals and leave this website with a couple of trips that you had not planned on taking prior.
Get Creative with the Itinerary
First, always check roundtrip prices if applicable and then each leg individually. A roundtrip is not always the most cost-effective way to purchase a ticket. You can often travel one way on one airline and return on another, and this combination can provide cost savings.
Many Airlines will reward you if you add a stop-over. There are many different reasons for this, but one is so that you do not fill up their most valuable flights. A stop-over could be a great option to save money and include a quick stop in a different city/country you have never been to or want to revisit.
This option is not feasible for everyone, but if you live in a city served by multiple airports, check all airports in your area. Plus, if you are willing to travel, maybe check fares from airports within whichever range you feel comfortable driving. For example, if you live in Tampa, Orlando airport is known to have low fares and more non-stop options. This same tactic can be used for your arrival destination. Arriving in Fort Lauderdale can save you a lot of money even though your destination is Miami. These airports are less than 30 miles apart.
Lastly, book two separate tickets when connecting internationally. If you are from a city that is not an international gateway, you will typically save a lot of money fly from major gateways. For example, if you are going to Asia, fly to San Francisco or Los Angeles on a separate ticket. Then book another ticket to Asia. You can find fantastic deals in Europe and Africa from New York, JFK, and Newark. Competition drives cost down.
There is some risk in this, as you would have to make sure you have sufficient time to make the connection. If you book two separate tickets and one flight is delayed, you risk missing your international flight. This option is for the brave, but the savings could be substantial. Add an overnight stay if possible in your connection city to help minimize your risk.
Buy At The Right Time
Airline sales can happen randomly, and then other airlines will usually follow suit. It is an excellent idea to receive alerts directly from the airlines, as airlines often limit fare sales to a certain number of purchases. There have been some crazy fare sales, but you have to act quickly! Airlines have historically released their promotions and sales on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Passengers pay the lowest price – nearly 10 percent below the average fare – if they buy 50 days before their flight, According to reports from The Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), the company that process airline transactions between airlines and travel agencies the best time to purchase is 50 days prior to departure. Their data shows that seven weeks/50 days before departure has been historically 10 percent lower than the average fare.